Following its announcement that "When Calls the Heart" would return from hiatus next month with episodes reedited to remove former star Lori Loughlin, Hallmark Channel has renewed the drama series for a seventh season. As expected, Loughlin will not be in the cast.
The show's executive producer has addressed, but not answered, questions over the fate of Loughlin's character.
Fellow series star Erin Krakow said Saturday in a video aired during a Hallmark movie and posted online that she was "thrilled to announce 'When Calls the Heart' season seven, coming next year! We can't wait to get back to Hope Valley," the fictional, early 20th-century Canadian frontier town where the period drama is set.
On Sunday, executive producer Brian Bird took to Twitter to reiterate in a video, "By now you've probably heard the amazing news that season seven of 'When Calls the Heart' is a go. … What this means is that after the rest of season six's remaining episodes have finished airing, a brand-new season will be coming to your TV screen in 2020," as well a streaming spinoff series, "When Hope Calls."
Bird went on to say, "As you know, this season we were all caught off-guard by the circumstances surrounding our friend Lori Loughlin and her family." Hauppauge native Loughlin was among more than 30 parents charged last month in a college-admissions bribery investigation, leading to Hallmark dropping the actress from "When Calls the Heart" and other programming. Bird said the story of her character, mayor and café-owner Abigail Stanton, "has always been an important part of the Hope Valley journey. And while our hearts hurt for Lori, none of us has any idea what the future holds right now."
He added, "Some of you have asked what'll happen to Abigail's character and shared your opinion that Hope Valley should be an example of forgiveness and grace. Y'know, as a human being I couldn't agree more, and Hope Valley will always be a place of second chances. But in the real world, that doesn't mean that justice can be ignored." He gave no indication as to how Stanton will be written out.
On Monday, Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty to charges in the bribery scam, according to court documents, The Associated Press reports.